COVID-19: Hurriyat Conference(M) voices concern over health of political prisoners

Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Monday expressed concern over the health of Kashmiri political prisoners in jails across the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and demanded their immediate release.

In a statement, the Hurriyat Conference (M) said it is greatly concerned about the health reports of Kashmiri political detainees as the pandemic wreaked havoc in jails across India.

“As per the family sources of prisoners, lack of even basic amenities inside the jails has led to serious health problems,” it said.

Quoting the family sources of Shahid-ul-Islam, who is Mirwaiz’s media advisor and currently in Tihar jail, the Hurriyat said he is very ill and showing all symptoms of coronavirus, including high fever, but “authorities are neither getting him tested, nor taking him to the hospital”.

“It is extremely worrisome that political prisoners who are also humans could be treated like this. The silence of one and all, including human rights organisations, on this issue has led the authorities to show this indifference and inhumanity towards prisoners,” the amalgam said.

The Hurriyat said such is the “apathy” that separatist leader Mohammad Ayaz Akbar, who is also lodged in Tihar jail, was not released even for a day on parole despite repeated appeals to see his wife who was suffering from cancer for past three years till she breathed her last recently.

“Political prisoners, youth, civil society members even female political leaders continue to languish in jails for years together now, without any case and proper judicial trial, with authorities playing with their lives and their health, especially in times of COVID as it is rapidly spreading in jails,” it said.

The Hurriyat appealed to the human rights organisations, civil society members and “all those people who have a heart to being focus upon the plight of these prisoners in jails and ensure their release before it’s too late”.

“We also once again ask the government authorities to release these political prisoners, youth and others, especially in view of the rapid spread of COVID in jails,” the amalgam said.

The Hurriyat also expressed strong resentment over the continued “arbitrary” house detention of its chairman during the holy month of Ramazan, saying the 21-month-long detention of the “valley’s top leader is hurting the sentiments of the people”.

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